Seattle stares down elimination for fifth time . . . First team in WHL history to win two Game 7s on road . . . Championship series opens in Edmonton on Friday

The WHL’s championship final, featuring the Edmonton Oil Kings and Seattle WHLplayoffs2022Thunderbirds, will open in the Alberta capital with games on Friday and Sunday.

The series will follow a 2-2-3 format — yes, you read that correctly. Due to building availability issues — the arena is booked for graduation ceremonies from June 9-15 — in Kent, Wash., the Thunderbirds will get only two home games, although they will be designated as the home team for one of the possible five games in Edmonton.

They will play Games 3 and 4 in Kent on Tuesday and Wednesday (June 8), before returning to Edmonton, if necessary, to finish up. Those games would be played on June 11, 13 and 14, with the Thunderbirds the ‘home’ team for Game 6. TSN will televise the series, beginning with Game 3.

The Oil Kings, the Eastern Conference’s second seed, advanced to the final by taking out the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice in five games. Edmonton has been sitting and waiting for an opponent since eliminating the Ice on Friday.

The Thunderbirds, the Western Conference’s fourth seed, ousted the No. 2 Kamloops Blazers, winning Game 7, 3-2, on the road on Tuesday night.

The Oil Kings last reached the WHL final in 2014 when they beat the Portland Winterhawks in seven games en route to winning the Memorial Cup. That was the third of three straight WHL finals to feature Edmonton and Portland — the Oil Kings won in 2012 and 2014.

Edmonton is 12-1 in these playoffs, having swept the No. 7 Lethbridge Hurricanes and No. 3 Red Deer Rebels before taking out the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice in five games.

Seattle last appeared in the WHL final in 2017 when it won the championship by taking out the Regina Pats in six games. One year earlier, the Thunderbirds lost the final, 4-1, to the Brandon Wheat Kings.

In these playoffs, Seattle now is 12-7, having eliminated the Kelowna Rockets, 4-1, and then gone seven games with both Portland and Kamloops.

Interestingly, the Thunderbirds won Game 6 in both those series by a 2-1 count at home, then went on the road to win Game 7. In the process, they became the first team in WHL history — which begins in 1966-67 — to win two Game 7s on the road in the same playoff season.

——

TUESDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference

In Kamloops, F Jared Davidson scored twice and linemate Lukas Svejkovsky drew three assists as the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds beat the Blazers, 3-2, in SeattleGame 7 of the conference final. . . . It was the fifth time the Thunderbirds faced elimination in these playoffs and they now are 5-0 in such games. . . . The Blazers opened the scoring for the sixth time in the series when F Fraser Minten (6) struck at 8:34 of the opening period. . . . Seattle F Lucas Ciona drilled the left post behind G Dylan Garand a few minutes later. . . . The Thunderbirds pulled even at 15:47 when Davidson (10) snapped one home from the right face-off dot just seven seconds into the game’s first PP opportunity. That would be the only PP by either team on this night. . . . Davidson (11) shot Seattle into the lead at 2:27 of the second period following another face-off win in the Kamloops zone. . . . The Thunderbirds went ahead 3-1 at 14:56 as F Henrik Rybinski (4) beat Garand by tipping in a shot by D Jeremy Hanzel. . . . Seattle G Thomas Milic preserved the two-goal lead with a big stop off Kamloops F Logan Stankoven through traffic to start the third period. . . . The Blazers finally got  to within a goal, but there were only 7.4 seconds left to play when F Daylan Kuefler (10) scored. . . . Milic finished with 33 saves, four fewer than Garand. . . . What was the key to Seattle’s series victory? Over the last four games of the series, the Thunderbirds held Stankoven, who leads the playoffs with 30 points, to three assists, while shutting out linemate Luke Toporowski, who finished with 23 points. Stankoven had scored hat tricks in Games 1 and 3, with Toporowski recording six helpers. . . . Meanwhile, Svejkovsky put up two goals and eight assists in six games, while Davidson had five goals and three assists in seven games, and Rybinsky, the third member of that line, played in only four games but had a goal and four assists.


Cyclops


The Minnesota Twins will be in Toronto for a weekend series with the Blue Jays, COVIDbut shortstop Carlos Correa, a two-time all-star with the Houston Astros, won’t be with them. He was placed on the COVID-19 restricted list on Tuesday after exhibiting symptoms on Sunday and getting worse on Monday. Also on that list are Joe Ryan, a right-handed started, and backup OF Gilberto Celestino. . . . According to Sportsnet, the Twins, who began the week in Detroit against the Tigers, “have already said they’ll have ‘a few’ players on the restricted list not travelling to Toronto. This generally means players unvaccinated against COVID-19.”


My wife, Dorothy, a kidney transplant recipient in 2013, will take part in the 2022 #kamloops Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year on Sunday. Yes, it’s virtual again. You are able to sponsor her right here.


Bank


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Beau McCue won’t be back as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans, but he will be remaining with the organization. According to a news release, McCue, who played four seasons (2012-16) with the Americans, “will remain with the club in a supportive role within hockey operations.” . . . BTW, I asked American’s general manager Bob Tory, who is one of four co-owners, a while back if Stu Barnes would be back as head coach. The one-word response was: “Absolutely.” . . . Barnes, who also owns a piece of the Americans, now is preparing for his second season as the club’s head coach. . . .

The BCHL’s Surrey Eagles have added Matt Dawson as an assistant coach. A former Eagles defenceman, he played five seasons (2015-20) at the U of New Hampshire. In 2022-23, he was an assistant coach with the junior B Delta Ice Hawks of the Pacific Junior Hockey League. . . .

The junior B Westshore Wolves of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League have signed general manager and head coach Derek Sweet-Coulter to a three-year contract extension. He is preparing for his second season with the club. . . .

The junior B Revelstoke Grizzlies, the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s defending champions, have promoted Jiri Novak to assistant general manager and associate head coach. He is going into is fourth season on the coaching staff. . . .

Alex Mandolidis has signed on as the general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. He is coming off three seasons as an assistant coach with the Calgary-based Mount Royal U Cougars men’s hockey team. Before that, he was an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Calgary Mustangs for one season. . . . With the Blues, he takes over from Taras McEwen, who now is the director of hockey operations. . . . The Blues are owned by 50 Below Sports + Entertainment, which also owns, among other things, the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice and the MJHL’s Winnipeg Freeze.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Sense

Ice responds to City of Cranbrook lawsuit . . . Portland’s McCleary had interesting night . . . Four WHL teams facing elimination tonight

The City of Cranbook filed a lawsuit claiming breach of contract in December 2020 after a WHL franchise that had been located there left for Winnipeg. Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman has discovered that the owners of the Winnipeg Ice filed a response to that lawsuit last month. . . . Of course, that response presents a different version of the facts than does Cranbrook’s lawsuit. . . . Crawley’s story is right here.



The IIHF’s 2023 World men’s hockey championship was to have been decided in St. Petersburg, Russia, from May 5-21. That won’t happen now that the IIHF announced that “out of concern for the safety and well-being of participating players, officials, media and fans, the IIHF council has decided to withdraw the hosting rights . . . from Russia . . .” . . . The decision was made during an IIHF council meeting in Zurich on Tuesday. The IIHF said it will confirm “an alternative host” during its 2022 Congress in Tampere, Finland, during the final week of the 2022 World men’s tournament. . . . From a news release: “The decision to relocate the event was taken primarily out of concern for the safety and well-being of all participating players, officials, media, and fans. As was the case with Council’s earlier decision to withdraw the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship that was to be held in Omsk and Novosibirsk, Russia, the Council expressed significant concerns over the safe freedom of movement of players and officials to, from, and within Russia.”


TUESDAY IN THE WHL:

There were six playoff games on the ice and there weren’t any surprises as the higher seed won each of the games. . . . There are six more games on tap tonight with four teams already facing elimination. The Prince Albert Raiders, Saskatoon Blades, Kelowna Rockets and Prince George Cougars trail their best-of-seven series, 3-0, as they play on home ice again tonight. . . . Here’s how things went last night. . . .

Western Conference:

In Prince George, G Taylor Gauthier stopped 28 shots in leading the No. 3 PortlandPortland Winterhawks to a 2-0 victory over the No. 6 Cougars. . . . Portland has won the first three games of the series and can end it tonight in Prince George. . . . The Winterhawks acquired Gauthier, 20, from the Cougars during the season. His first playoff shutout came in his third appearance, all of them this season with Portland. . . . F Gabe Klassen scored both of Portland’s goals — at 2:46 and 13:36 of the second period. . . . F Riley Heidt of the Cougars took a kneeing major and game misconduct for a second-period hit on D Luca Cagnoni, who wasn’t injured on the play. . . . There was something of an oddity on the play as Portland D Ryan McCleary was shown on the online game sheet as having received a game misconduct, along with an instigating minor and a major for a fight with Heidt. McCleary apparently returned to the dressing room, took off his hockey gear, put on his suit and headed up into the stands. He later was told that he hadn’t been ejected, so went back to the dressing room, put his hockey gear back on and returned to the action. The game misconduct later disappeared from the game sheet, to be replaced by misconduct. . . . D Clay Hanus and F Aidan Litke were out of Portland’s lineup, presumably with undisclosed injuries, and didn’t even make the trek north. . . .

In Kelowna, the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds struck for three third-period goals Seattlein the span of 1:32 and went on to beat the No. 5 Rockets, 5-1. . . . The Thunderbirds hold a 3-0 series lead going into tonight’s Game 4 in Kelowna. . . . F Jake Poole of the Rockets opened the scoring when he counted on a penalty shot at 18:22 of the first period. . . . F Reid Schaefer pulled Seattle even, on a PP, at 5:07 of the second. . . . Seattle’s offensive explosion began at 5:57 of the third period when D Kevin Korchinski scored for a 2-1 lead. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky notched his fourth goal of the series, on a PP, at 7:12, and Korchinski added his second goal of the game — and third of the series — at 7:29. That goal also came on a PP; it was Seattle’s 10th goal with the man advantage in the three games. The Thunderbirds are 10-for-19 on the PP in the three games. . . . The two PP goals came after Kelowna F Mark Liwiski was hit with a checking-to-the-head major at 4:00 of the third period. . . . Korchinski has three goals and six assists in the series. F Jared Davidson, who had three assists, has two goals and eight assists.

——

Eastern Conference:

In Prince Albert, the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice scored four first-period goals and added WinnipegIcefive more in the second en route to a 10-1 victory over the No. 8 Raiders. . . . Winnipeg leads the series 3-0 and gets its first opportunity to wrap it up tonight. . . . The Ice led 2-0 at the 7:03 mark of the first period, having scored two PP goals. . . . F Mikey Milne scored three times for the Ice, completing his hat trick with a shorthanded score at 19:15 of the second period. He also had an assist. . . . F Connor McClennon had a goal and three assists. . . . Winnipeg had a 36-19 edge in shots. . . . The Ice was 3-for-5 on the PP, and now is 7-for-12 in the three games. . . . The Raiders had Ozzy Wiesblatt back in their lineup. Wiesblatt, who had 41 points in 43 regular-season games, hadn’t played since March 12. . . . Winnipeg F Matt Savoie, who was injured in Game 1 and missed Game 2, was on the ice for the pregame warmup. Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW.com tweeted that Savoie “is visibly favouring his left leg.” Savoie ended up being a scratch. . . .

In Lethbridge, the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings scored the game’s first three goals Edmontonand went on to a 4-1 victory over the No. 7 Hurricanes. . . . The Oil Kings now hold a 3-0 edge and can sweep the series Thursday night in Lethbridge. . . . F Jalen Luypen had a goal and two assists for Edmonton, opening the scoring at 2:21 of the first period. . . . D Kaiden Guhle upped the lead to 2-0 at 1:56 of the second period. . . . F Carter Souch made it 3-0, on a PP, at 11:03. . . . The Hurricanes counted at 3:18 of the third period when F Yegor Klavdiev scored on a PP, but F Dylan Guenther got that one back — it was his third of the series — at 6:13. . . . G Sebastian Cossa stopped 25 shots to record the victory over Bryan Thomson, who blocked 34 shots. . . .

In Brandon, the No. 3 Red Deer Rebels got third-period goals from F Arshdeep RedDeerBains and F Ben King as they beat the No. 6 Wheat Kings, 3-1. . . . Red Deer holds a 2-1 lead now with Game 4 in Brandon tonight. They’ll be back in Red Deer for Game 5 on Friday. . . . Bains, who won the WHL scoring race, broke a 1-1 tie, on a PP, at 6:35, with King, who led the WHL in goals, adding insurance at 15:26. . . . Bains also had two assists. . . . Red Deer was 2-for-7 on the PP; Brandon was 0-for-6. . . .

In Saskatoon, F Cordel Larson scored in OT to give the No. 4 Moose Jaw MooseJawWarriors a 3-2 victory over the No. 5 Blades. . . . The Warriors lead the series 3-0 with Game 4 in Saskatoon tonight. . . . Saskatoon took a 1-0 lead at 3:20 of the first period when F Jayden Wiens scored. . . . The Warriors grabbed a 2-1 lead on goals from F Eric Alarie, at 18:15 of the first, and F Martin Rysavy, at 4:43 of the second. . . . The Blades forced OT at 19:15 of the third period when F Brandon Lisowsky scored with G Nolan Maier on the bench in favour of the extra skater. . . . Larson won it at 9:40 of extra time with his second goal of the series. (NOTE: The online game sheet credits F Atley Calvert with the winner, but it would seem a change is in the works.) . . . The Warriors got 27 saves from G Carl Tetachuk, while Maier blocked 34 for Saskatoon. . . . F Tristen Robins, Saskatoon’s captain, returned to the lineup after missing six games with an undisclosed injury.


Clown


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The City of Revelstoke and the junior B Grizzlies of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League will play host to the 2023 Cyclone Taylor Cup tournament. The four-team event, featuring a host team and champions from the KIJHL, Pacific Junior Hockey League and Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, is scheduled for April 13-16. This will be first time the tournament will have been played in Revelstoke. . . . Mike Leone is the new general manager and head coach of the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers. He spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach in the USA Hockey National Team Development Program. Leone takes over from Pat Mikesch, who spent eight seasons with the Gamblers. He and the organization parted company after the Gamblers missed the playoffs for the fourth time in eight seasons.


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.


Lasagna


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Zombie

Season over for Blades’ captain . . . Regina, Saskatoon combine to bid on 2023 WJC . . . Blazers clinch B.C. flag

TurnSignals


The Saskatoon Blades announced on Wednesday that D Aidan De La SaskatoonGorgendiere, their 19-year-old captain, won’t play again this season. He will be undergoing surgery to repair an undisclosed injury. . . . “Aidan has been battling through an ailment for most of the season and, over the weekend, it finally reached a point where surgery was the only option for him,” Colin Priestner, the Blades’ president and general manager, said in a statement. “We will miss his leadership and it certainly is difficult news given how much he means to our team on and off the ice.” . . . De La Gorgendiere is the Blades’ highest-scoring defenceman, with 45 points, including 41 assists, in 54 games. His 45 points are the fourth-highest on the team. . . . F Tristen Robins, 20, wore the captain’s ‘C’ for the first time on Wednesday night as the Blades dropped a 3-2 decision to the Pats in Regina.



Yes, it’s true. The virus reared its ugly head in the NHL again on Wednesday. The Winnipeg Jets were without F Kyle Connor and D Nate Schmidt when they met the Sabres in Buffalo last night after both players tested positive earlier in the day. . . . Connor hadn’t previously tested positive, while Schmidt missed time with COVID-19 last season while with the Vancouver Canucks. . . . Both players are expected to miss at least three games. Considering that Connor leads the Jets with a career-high 82 points, including 41 goals, this is a serious blow to a team that is chasing a playoff spot. . . . The Jets beat the Sabres, 3-2 in a shootout.


The 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship was to have been held in IIHFNovosibirsk and Omsk, Russia, but those plans were scrubbed after the dictator chose to attack Ukraine. There have been reports that the IIHF has asked Canada to play host, even though the 2022 tournament is to be held in Edmonton in August. One option for Canada is for Ottawa and Quebec City to share hosting duties, while organizations in Regina and Saskatoon are preparing a joint bid. . . . From a press release issued by Tourism Regina and Tourism Saskatoon: “This is an exciting opportunity to host the IIHF World Junior Championships throughout Saskatchewan with potential games being played in municipalities like Humboldt, Swift Current, Prince Albert and Moose Jaw.”


Doctor


Perry Bergson covers the Brandon Wheat Kings for the Brandon Sun . . .


WEDNESDAY IN THE WHL:

In Regina, the Pats scored the game’s first three goals and held on for a 3-2 Reginavictory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . D Ryker Evans’ 14th goal, on a PP at 1:31 of the third period, stood up as the winner. . . . The Blades had stopped Regina F Connor Bedard’s 21-game streak on Friday in Saskatoon and held him to one assist last night. . . . The Blades won the season series, 5-1-0. . . . The Pats (24-31-5) are five points from the Eastern Conference’s last playoff spot. . . . The Blades (34-24-4) are fifth, three points behind the Moose Jaw Warriors, with each team having six games remaining. . . .

C Carson Latimer scored two first-period goals, the second via the PP, to lead PrinceAlbertthe Raiders to a 2-1 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings in Prince Albert. . . . Latimer, who has 16 goals, struck at 14:27 and 16:33. . . . C Charlie Elick, the third overall selection in the WHL’s December draft, scored his first goal for Brandon. . . . The Raiders, who got 34 saves from G Chaika Tikhon, had lost their previous four games. . . . Prince Albert (25-32-5) now are within three points of eighth place but have only six games left. . . . The Wheat Kings (30-25-5) appear headed to a sixth-place finish in the conference. . . .

In Calgary, the Hitmen opened up a 2-0 first-period lead and went on to beat the Medicine Hat Tigers, 3-2. . . . F Cael Zimmerman’s 12th goal, at 19:57 of the first period, gave the Hitmen a 3-1 lead. . . . Calgary (23-31-8) is 10th, four points from a playoff spot with six games left. . . . The Tigers (11-46-4) won’t be in the playoffs. . . .

F Raphael Pelletier broke a 4-4 tie at 5:34 of the third period and later added an SwiftCurrentempty-netter as the visiting Swift Current Broncos beat the Lethbridge Hurricanes, 6-4. . . . Pelletier, who also had an assist, now has 19 goals. He went into this season with six goals and nine assists in 69 career regular-season games. This season, he now has 46 points in 60 games. . . . The Broncos (26-31-7) are seventh, one point ahead of eighth-place Lethbridge (27-30-4), which is three points ahead of Prince Albert. . . .

The host Kamloops Blazers scored three goals early in the first period en route Kamloopsto a 8-2 victory over the Prince George Cougars. . . . The Blazers, who led 6-0 before the second period was four minutes old, clinched first place in the B.C. Division. . . . F Logan Stankoven led the Blazers with two goals, giving him 40, and two assists. . . . Stankoven, a Kamloopsian who turned 19 on Feb. 26, has 91 points in 53 games. He leads the WHL in points per game — 1.72. F Ridley Greig of the Brandon Wheat Kings is second, at 1.62. . . . F Koehn Ziemmer scored his 30th goal of the season for the Cougars. He is the first Prince George freshman to get there since F Brett Connolly (2008-09). . . . Kamloops has had its two largest announced crowds of the season for its last two games — 4,969 for a 6-0 victory over the Kelowna Rockets on Friday and 4,745 last night. . . . With two games left in the season series, the Blazers hold an 8-2-0 edge; the Cougars are 2-7-1. . . . Kamloops (45-15-2) is two points behind the Western Conference-leading Everett Silvertips (43-10-8), who hold a game in hand.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Terry McFaul has been named the Kelowna Rockets’ director of player personnel. McFaul has been on the Rockets’ scouting staff for 31 years. He was named head scout on April 23, 2020. . . . If you like playoff OT, you should have been in Nelson, B.C., on Tuesday night for the Kootenay International Hockey League game. The Revelstoke Grizzlies and the Leafs got into the third OT period before the visitors got a goal from D Will McPhee at 15:04 for a 4-3 victory. Revelstoke G Brandon Weare stopped 49 shots, 12 more than Dylan Marshall of the Leafs. The Grizzlies lead the best-of-seven series, 3-1, with Game 5 in Revelstoke tonight.


Gas


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Amazon

Royals complete sweep of Rockets . . . Ice alone atop WHL standings . . . Coaching vacancy in MJHL

In a piece posted here late Tuesday, I questioned why some hockey leagues are so quick to get through their playoffs after playing through a lengthy and kijhlgrinding regular season. . . . As an example, I used the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. . . . Well, the Nelson Leafs and Revelstoke Grizzlies will play in the KIJHL’s best-of-seven championship final, and the schedule was released on Wednesday. . . . If the series goes seven games, the teams will play seven games in nine days. Seriously! . . . The series is scheduled to open Friday in Revelstoke, with Game 2 there on Saturday. The scene shifts to Nelson for games on Monday and Tuesday. If necessary, they then will play three games in as many nights — March 31 in Revelstoke, April 1 in Nelson, April 2 in Revelstoke. . . . Just thinking out loud here but maybe it is time junior hockey players had some kind of players’ association to stand up on their behalf when things like this happen.


A tip of the hat to the BCHL for taking advantage of more playoff time to spread bchlthings out. You may recall that the BCHL no longer is part of the Canadian Junior Hockey League, so won’t take part in the Centennial Cup tournament.

From Steve Ewen of Postmedia:

“The BCHL champion won’t be in the running for the Centennial Cup national title, since the league pulled out of the Canadian Junior Hockey League last spring and lost its spot in that tournament. The BCHL had sent a letter to the CJHL regarding multiple concerns. They wanted player transfers to be less restricted, for instance. The CJHL never responded to BCHL’s concerns, and the BCHL opted to leave.

“It did give the BCHL an opportunity to start its season later, which allowed it to spread out games. The league wasn’t concerned about having its schedule completed to link up with the other leagues for playoffs.

“I think this will make winning our league mean even more,” said (Penticton Vees GM/head coach Fred) Harbinson.

Ewen’s story is right here.


Stress


The Team 980, a radio station in Washington, D.C., had been the voice of the city’s NFL franchise since 2008. It ended its relationship with the team, known the Commanders, on Wednesday morning. Why? Kevin Sheehan, the station’s morning host, made the announcement. He explained: “The team and our company disagreed on the value of the broadcast. It’s also very important for us as a sports talk station, even as a long-time flagship station for the team, it was important for us to continue to be able to provide honest, objective information and analysis about the team on our talk shows.” . . . As Brandon Contes of Awful Announcing wrote: “Sheehan’s statement implies the Commanders have or would attempt to censor the content and topics that were discussed about the team on-air. The ability to speak objectively and honestly about NFL teams should be a requirement for sports radio stations, especially as it pertains to the Washington Commanders.” . . . Hmm, shouldn’t that be a requirement for any broadcast outlet?



WEDNESDAY NIGHT IN THE WHL:

In Victoria, F Marcus Almquist had a goal and two assists to lead the Royals to a 4-3 victory over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Almquist, an 18-year-old from Denmark, went into the game with two goals and four assists in 34 games. . . . He also has goals in two straight games, having scored the game’s first goal on Tuesday when the Royals beat the Rockets, 4-2. . . . Last night, the Rockets got four assists from F Tanner Scott and two goals — he’s got 28 — and an assist from F Brayden Schuuman. . . . Almquist’s second goal, at 4:00 of the third period, gave the Royals a 4-2 lead. . . . The game featured two minor penalties — one to each team — and each team was 1-for-1 on the PP. . . . G Campbell Arnold stopped 36 shots to earn the victory. . . . Victoria (21-34-6), with four straight victories, is seventh in the Western Conference, two points behind the Vancouver Giants and five ahead of the Prince George Cougars and Spokane Chiefs. . . . Kelowna (34-18-6) is fifth, four points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was at this game and his post is right here. . . .

G Daniel Hauser ran his winning streak to 10 games as the visiting Winnipeg Ice beat the Saskatoon Blades, 4-2. . . . Hauser, who was called on to make only 16 stops, now is 26-2-1, 2.06, .913 this season. His career numbers are 33-2-1, 2.28, .909. . . . F Chase Wheatcroft’s 13th goal, at 2:06 of the third period, gave Winnipeg a 3-1 lead and stood up as the winner. . . . The Ice was without top-end forwards Matthew Savoie and F Conor Geekie, both of whom were in Kitchener, Ont., at the Top Prospects Game. . . . Winnipeg (45-9-5) leads the overall standings and the Eastern Conference by two points over the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Saskatoon (33-22-4) is fifth in the conference, three points behind the Moose Jaw Warriors and nine ahead of the Brandon Wheat Kings.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The MJHL’s OCN Blizzard won’t be re-signing Billy Keane, who had been the general manager and head coach since July 16, 2020. The Blizzard (18-29-7) finished last in the six-team West Division and didn’t qualify for the playoffs.


——


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Tequila

Virus takes bite out of Grizzlies . . . Meet Duvernay-Tardif, a Canadian hero . . . Chiefs goalie wins in USHL debut

The junior B Revelstoke Grizzlies of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey RevelstokeLeague announced Friday night that they “have ceased operations for the remainder of the 2020-21 season after members of the organization tested positive for COVID-19.” . . . The Grizzlies learned on Tuesday that “a potential COVID-19 contact” had occurred at a player’s work place. . . . According to a team statement, “The player . . . subsequently tested positive . . . and additional team members have also since received positive test results.” . . . Here’s Ryan Parent, the Grizzlies’ general manager and head coach: “Earlier this week we elected to temporarily cancel team activities in an effort to keep our billet families, players and greater community safe. “In light of having received multiple positive test results, we have had to make another hard decision. It is with a heavy heart that we have ceased operations for the 2020-21 KIJHL season.” . . . The team’s release is right here. . . . The KIJHL hasn’t played games since Nov. 20.


A year ago, OL Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was preparing to play in the Super Bowl, a game he and his Kansas City Chiefs teammates would win. . . . The Chiefs are back in the NFL’s championship game, but Duvernay-Tardif isn’t. He opted out of this season in order to work at a long-term care facility in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu in his his home province of Quebec. He attended McGill U Faculty of Medicine, graduating with a Doctor of Medicine and Master of Surgery, but hasn’t completed his postgraduate training. . . . Earlier this month, he appeared on the CBC Radio show The Current with Matt Galloway. It’s a 27-minute interview that will be the best 27 minutes you will have invested in anything in the first month of 2021. Give it a listen right here.


While I was away for a couple of days, the WHL announced that it had been WHL2given the OK by the Alberta government to play a few games starting in late February. . . . If all goes well, the league’s five Alberta teams will begin playing games on Feb. 26. A schedule has yet to be announced, but it’ll be weekends only — one team will have a bye, the other four will play two games in home-and-home series, something that will mean no hotel stays. . . . Staff and players are to begin self-quarantining today and report to their teams on Feb. 6. . . . If you missed it, the WHL’s news release is right here. . . . But, please, let’s not call this return to play a season? It’s certainly not a 2020-21 season. Rather, Let’s call it a developmental season, because that’s what these games will be about. . . .

BTW, when I say that I was away for a bit, I wasn’t out of province or even out of town. I was in the backyard working with a shovel after our premier urged all of us to “dig down a little deeper.”



Book


Elemer Jerkovits is a familiar figure on the Regina and Saskatchewan sporting scenes as an umpire and hockey referee. It was in his role as the latter when he believes he contracted COVID-19 while working an adult recreational hockey game in Regina. And, yes, when he went home he passed the virus along to his wife, Kendra. . . . That was in mid-November and the after-effects continue to linger. . . . As a result, Jerkovits isn’t convinced that it’s time to open up the rinks. “People say kids aren’t as susceptible to this virus,” he told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post. “Well, possibly, but there are kids that are catching it. The rink environment is not the best place to be. From my understanding, it’s the humidity in the air and the ventilation. I was in a 10-year-old building when I got it, so you’d think the ventilation system was fairly up to date.” . . . Jerkovits also has decided that he’ll be staying away from officiating for the next while. “I’m not telling people what to do,” he said. “Who am I to tell people how to raise their kids or what activities they should and shouldn’t do? Just take it from somebody who caught it and (experienced) the impact on our life — as minimal as it was compared to many others. It’s just not worth it.” . . . Harder’s complete story is right here.


G Lukáš Parik, who played last season with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs, made his USHL debut on Friday night, stopping 30 shots in leading the Dubuque Fighting Saints to a 4-1 victory over the host Waterloo Black Hawks. Parik, who played in two games for Czech Republic at the 2021 World Junior Championship, had been playing for HC Benatky and Jizerou in Czech2 before joining the Fighting Saints. . . . He was a third-round pick by the Los Angeles Kings in the NHL’s 2019 draft..


Car


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The NHL has scratched two more games involving the Vegas Golden Knights. They were to have played the San Jose Sharks in Glendale, Ariz., on Feb. 1 and 3, but have run into COVID-19 issues and have had to put things on hold for now. Vegas has three coaches and D Alex Pietrangelo in protocol. . . . Those two games were to have been the Sharks’ first ‘home’ games of the season. They were to play their home games in Glendale, the home of the Coyotes, because Santa Clara Country, their home in California, had prohibited the playing of contact sports. The Sharks now are hoping to play their first home game in San Jose on Feb. 13 with the Anaheim Ducks providing the opposition. . . .

The Golden Knights’ AHL affiliate, the Henderson Silver Knights, beat the visiting San Jose Barracuda, 7-3, in an exhibition game on Friday night. Deryk Engelland, the former Vegas defenceman who retired as an NHL player prior to this season, ran the Silver Knights’ bench. He is a special assistant to the owner with the Golden Knights. . . . Manny Viveiros, Henderson’s head coach, and assistants Jamie Heward and Joel Ward have been away from the team since Tuesday when they ran the Golden Knights’ bench with their coaches away because of COVID-19 protocol. . . .

There are problems in the AHL, too, as it struggles to get exhibition games played. It cancelled two weekend games — Binghamton and Hershey on Saturday, Lehigh Valley and Hershey on Sunday. “The decision was made in consultation with medical experts and the AHL and due to the health and safety of players, coaches and game-day personnel,” the league said in a tweet. . . . At that point, it had scratched seven exhibition games. . . .

F Travis Zajac didn’t practise with the New Jersey Devils on Friday, because of what the team said was “a COVID-related absence.” The Devils are scheduled to face the Buffalo Sabres today at 1 p.m. ET. . . . The Devils have Zajac, G Mackenzie Blackwood and G Aaron Dell on the protocol list. . . . The list of NHL players on the protocol list for Friday is right here. . . .

There was good news from the NBA as only one player tested positive in the week beginning Jan. 20. All told, 492 players were tested. . . .

The 2021 Alberta Summer Games that had been scheduled for Lethbridge have been cancelled. They were to have been held there in July 2020, but were postponed. . . .

The National Women’s Hockey League is playing games in a bubble in Lake Placid, N.Y., but it lost the Metropolitan Riveters on Thursday. They pulled out after an undisclosed number of players tested positive. The league will continue to play with five teams.


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If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Grandma

IIHF to go bubble route for 2021 WJC . . . Former pro hockey player dies of COVID-19 in Texas . . . Jr. B team loses GM/head coach to border closure


IIHFThe IIHF revealed Thursday that the 2021 World Junior Championship will be played in Edmonton using a bubble system. The plan was submitted to the IIHF by Hockey Canada, as prepared by the local organizing committee, and approved by its Council. . . . Originally, the WJC was to have been played in Red Deer and Edmonton, running from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5. . . . The IIHF hasn’t yet announced a revamped schedule. . . . At the same time, the IIHF said the 2022 tournament will be shared by Red Deer and Edmonton. Gothenburg, Sweden, which was to have played host to the 2022 event, now will have it in 2024. The 2023 tournament is scheduled for Novosibirsk, Russia. . . .

At the same time, the IIHF cancelled all lower division U-20 men’s tournament that had been scheduled for Horsholm, Denmark (Division I Group A); Tallinn, Estonia (Division I Group B); Brasov, Romania (Division II Group A); Belgrade, Serbia (Division II Group B); and Mexico City (Division III). . . . The 2021 U-18 women’s world championship that was to have been held in Linkoping and Mjolby, Sweden, also was cancelled, along with other women’s U-18 events that had been set for Gyor, Hungary (Division 1 Group A); Radenthein, Austria (Division I Group B); Dumfries, Great Britain (Division II Group A); Kocaeli, Turkey (Division II Group B). . . . The IIHF also postponed Round 1 of the women’s Olympic pre-qualification event that was to have been held in Reykjavik, Iceland, Dec. 17-19.


The OHL announced Thursday that its teams will open training camps on Nov. ohl15, with the regular season, as previously announced, to run from Dec. 1 through April 29. . . . Its playoffs are to begin on May 2 and conclude by June 14, with the Memorial Cup scheduled for Oshawa or Sault Ste. Marie, June 17-27. . . . At the same time, the OHL said that it “continues to work with government and health agencies to plan the safe return of OHL action while also finalizing outstanding issues such as safe attendance at venues and cross-border travel for teams.” . . .

There are two other major junior leagues in Canada. The QMJHL’s 18 teams are holding training camps right now and is planning on opening its regular season on Oct. 1. . . . The WHL is aiming to begin its regular season on Dec. 4.


Love


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Tyler Amburgey, a youth hockey coach who had a brief pro career, died at his home in Lavon, Texas, just northeast of Dallas, on Aug. 29. His wife, Aimee, told The New York Times that the cause of death was Covid-19. . . . Amburgey, a Dallas native, was 29. . . . He had concussion issues during his pro career and recently had experienced memory issues. His brain has been donated to the CTE Center at Boston U. . . . From 2012-16, he played for six teams in three leagues — the CHL, SPHL and ECHL. . . .

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Billy Witz, in The New York Times, after the Big Ten announced its football season would start on Oct. 8 after earlier cancelling it:

“Members of several fraternities and sororities at Michigan State University have been ordered to isolate for two weeks after a coronavirus outbreak on campus. Wisconsin’s chancellor urged students to “severely limit” their movements after more than 20 percent of its tests on students over Labor Day weekend came back positive. At Iowa, where the fall semester is less than a month old, more than 1,800 students have tested positive, and there are a whopping 221 cases in the athletic department alone. . . .

“The way the decision was met with hallelujahs in locker rooms, coaches’ offices, the warrens of social media occupied by die-hard fans and even at the White H0use — to say nothing of congratulations offered up by several reporters on a conference call with Big Ten leaders — it might have seemed as if Jonas Salk had risen and delivered a new vaccine.” . . .

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The NAHL’s Springfield Jr. Blues have suspended operations for 2020-21 due to the pandemic. They hope to return for the 2021-22 season. The NAHL hopes to open its regular season on Oct. 8 and, at this point, Illinois is not allowing indoor gatherings of more than 50 people. . . . The  Blues were the longest-tenured franchise in the league, having first played in 1993. . . . Earlier, the Corpus Christi IceRays and Kansas City Scouts, formerly the Topeka Pilots, also chose to opt out of the 2020-21 season. . . .

The 2021 Canada Games have been postponed by the Canada Games Council, which hopes to hold them in the summer of 2022. The 2021 Games were to have taken place in the Niagara Region of Ontario in August. . . .

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that an unidentified MLB umpire has tested positive, resulting in the shuffling of a few game assignments. The umpire and four others who had been in contact with him have since tested negative. . . .

When the Kansas City Chiefs opened their NFL season at home on Sept. 10, there were 6,000 fans allowed into Arrowhead Stadium. The Kansas City Health Department revealed Thursday that one of those fans has tested positive. Ten people who came into contact with fan have been asked to quarantine. . . .

Meanwhile, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported via Twitter that the Houston Texas “are working towards having up to 15,000 fans Week 4.” . . . The Indianapolis Colts “are increasing from 2,500 fans in Week 2 to 7,500 in Week 3.” . . . The Tennessee Titans “will have fans starting at 10% capacity and scaling up beginning in Week 4.”


Phone


——

If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: The NHL’s Stanley Cup final, featuring the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning, is to begin on Saturday. This means that the final won’t run into October as Game 7, if needed, will be played on Sept. 30. . . . The ECHL has awarded an expansion franchise to Coralville, Iowa, that will play in the new Xtream Arena beginning in 2021-22. The arena will seat 5,100 for hockey. The franchise is owned by Deacon Sports and Entertainment, a Canadian firm that also owns the ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers. . . .

Nick Redding, who was preparing for his third season as the general manager and head coach of the junior B Creston Valley Thunder Cats of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, has had to step down. The team revealed via Twitter that Redding, who is from Spokane, made the decision “due to Covid and Canadian/US restrictions on crossing the border.” The Thunder Cats had signed him to a three-year contract in March. . . . There now are at least two teams in the KIJHL that say their seasons are in jeopardy because of a shortage of billets. The Kimberley Dynamiters made the statement earlier this month. On Wednesday evening, the Revelstoke Grizzlies tweeted: “Our club is in urgent need of billet families. The season is in jeopardy of being cancelled if enough billets are not found.”


Dwarfs

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